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GED exam revised

September 21, 2000

GED exam revised



By TARA REILLY / Staff Writer


Washington County residents could have a tougher time passing the GED test when changes in the exam take effect in January 2002, according to Linda Vestal, an adult education counselor with the Washington County Board of Education.

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The five-section test, which provides those who pass it with the equivalent of a high school diploma, is being revamped to reflect rising academic standards for high school students. The current GED tests follow standards set in 1988, Vestal said.

The revised test will include changes in format and new types of questions, with an emphasis on data analysis, statistics, sentence organization, charts and graphs.

"The changes are needed to parallel what high school students are being asked to demonstrate," Vestal said.

"It is a very different assessment from the current one, and for many, it will be harder to pass and require substantially more work to complete these tests," according to a press release from Vestal.

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In 1998-99, 132 of the 178 people who took the GED in Washington County passed, according to Vestal. About 860,000 people across the nation take the GED yearly.

The math section on the GED will be broken into two parts. The first portion will require use of a calculator provided by the testing site, and the second part will not allow the use of a calculator. The current test consists of one section and does not allow calculators to be used, Vestal said.

Test-takers will have to pass both parts of the writing section. If they fail one part, they'll have to take both parts again, according to information provided by the American Council on Education, which sponsors the GED program. Both parts will be counted as one score.

Test-takers will be required to read more business-related materials, including letters, memos, reports and how-to texts and will be asked questions relating to the organization of sentences and paragraphs.

The written essay will remain a part of the exam.

Spelling will no longer be tested except for possessives, homonyms and contractions.

Physics and chemistry will be included in the physical science category and space science will be a part of the earth science category. The science test will have an increased focus on environmental and health topics, including recycling, heredity, disease prevention, pollution and climate. There will be more emphasis on science relevant to everyday life.

On the social studies test, more civics and government questions will be asked, as well as questions about certain eras in U.S. and world history.

Test-takers can expect more questions based on graphics and other visual aides, at least one excerpt from the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, the Federalist Papers or landmark Supreme Court cases.

Vestal said the changes are national but states can make additional changes to better represent that state's high school requirements.

The test takes about 7 1/2 hours and is given one Saturday a month throughout Maryland. People who fail sections of the test can take those section again. Because of the upcoming changes, current GED candidates will have to pass all five current sections by December 2001 or their scores will be eliminated, and they will be required to pass the new 2002 GED test, Vestal said.

"The time is becoming very limited," she said.

GED applications must be in by the 15th of the previous month.

The Washington County Adult Education office will provide practice GED tests for $15. Appointments can be made by calling 301-766-8460.

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